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Critical Mass

Film critic Rex Reed is getting a lot of attention at the moment for his review of the the movie Identity Thief. In it, he described actress Melissa McCarthy as "humongous," "tractor-sized" and a "female hippo." If you heard about this, you probably had the same reaction I did: Rex Reed is still alive?

Reed is getting hammered and criticized for his remarks…and in fairness to him, the trailers for the movie do make it look like an hour and a half of fat jokes with Ms. McCarthy cast for her weight. What strikes me as the outrage here is that folks are acting like what Rex Reed says matters.

There are many film reviewers in this country who do have followings and who have some connection to the tastes and interests of those followers. Reed has been writing reviews since the mid-sixties and I don't recall anyone caring what he said unless it was because it was tasteless and outrageous. Years ago when talk shows would have him on, he occasionally managed to contribute to some interesting television by being colorfully bitchy. Even then when he was heard by many, I wondered if any human being ever made his or her selection of movie ticket purchase because of something Rex Reed wrote.

I suppose he's sold a few now in that he's gotten Identity Thief some attention. But that kind of thing may be about the extent of his influence. With the Internet allowing every filmgoer to post opinions and "word of mouth" reaching more people, being rude may be about the only way an old-style film reviewer can matter.